The ironic thing about the “Hack-A” strategy is that so many of the NBA’s most notable coaches have employed it.
We can even blame Don Nelson as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks as a key connector of errors that furthered the Hack-A revolution that we are seeing obliterate the game and send NBA fans into a fury during this uncertain 2015-16 basketball season.
Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan currently sits at 41% from the line, attempting 302 free throws this season.
Now Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond is a new target. Wednesday night the Houston Rockets brought K.J. McDaniels off the bench and intentionally fouled Drummond five times in 10 seconds.
Drummond shot 13-for-36 from the line, setting an NBA record for missed free throws in a game at 23, and raised more than a few eyebrows across the league that after so many years the Hack-A strategy may make a major dent in the quality of the on-floor product.
Further, according to one estimate, there have been 223 instances of the “Hack-A” strategy employed thus far this season, compared to 164 for the entire ’14-’15 season.
I have 223 this year, which might still be missing some. 164 for the entire 2014-15 regular season. https://t.co/5LnQYpNCe8
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) January 21, 2016
The Hack A terminology came into the sports lexicon in the early 90s, thanks to Shaquille O’Neal, as Shaq rhymed with Hack. But its roots are much earlier than Shaquille O’Neal
Wilt Chamberlin perhaps the greatest scoring in NBA history, was a career 51% free throw shooter, and teams would often employ the Hack A strategy against him. The off the ball rule, was invented as teams would intentionally foul Chamberlin in lieu of playing defense even when he didn’t have the ball.
Don Nelson as the coach of the Mavericks-of all teams, (pre Mark Cuban) perpetuated the strategy by employing it against Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls, and it seemed to work. That led towards the Hack of Shaq finding its name and place in the lexicon when ultimately used against one Shaquille O’Neal of the Orlando Magic.
Shaq once said, “Me shooting forty percent from the line is just God’s way of saying nobody’s perfect.”
Gregg Popovich also employed it on Shaq both when facing the big man as a Laker and then later as a Phoenix Sun.
Coaches Jeff Van Gundy, Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and more all have employed the Hack A Shaq strategy against the Big Diesel.
The strategy was used early on in Shaq’s career in the Southeastern Conference at LSU. The beating his son took eventually led O’Neal’s father to petition the SEC to keep a closer eye on the fouls O’Neal suffered at LSU and he threatened it would force his son to leave LSU early for the NBA.
Of course Hack a Shaq sounds much better than Hack a Rodman or Foul a Rodman or even as we know it today Hack a DeAndre Jordan.
At the end of the 2014-15 NBA season, commissioner Adam Silver and the owners seriously considered making a major rule change aimed at curbing the strategy. Ultimately, they decided not to.
“The data shows that we’re largely talking about two teams, throughout the playoffs,” Silver said.
“In fact, 90 percent of the occurrences of Hack-a-Shaq involve the Rockets and the Clippers, and for the most part it’s two players. Seventy-five percent involve two players, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard.<”
Alas it’s increasing and not going away.
You might see some action if it gets out of hand in the playoffs and of course that may be determined by game situation, time, clock and who’s on the floor.
For now it’s open season for Hack A anybody.